Angela Eckhardt of the Capital Press reports that across the nation, it has become more and more difficult for small farmers to access restaurants and grocery stores, especially if they produce meat, fish or dairy. With federal legislation requiring meat to be processed through USDA-licensed processing facilties, shipping products to and from those facilities is not cost-effective.
At present, there is nothing in place that allow for smaller ranchers to process their meats locally like they do in England. Here, in the United States, if meat is not processed at a USDA-licensed facility, it cannot be sold.
The problem with the requirement of only processing meat at larger, industrial-sized facilities is that when there is an E. coli outbreak, for instance, the problem and subsequent recall of the product is massive. So are the number of infected consumers and hospital bills.
Ranchers in Wallowa County, Oregon, have been meeting to discuss having a local USDA-licensed processing facility. Unfortunately, it is no cheap nor easy task to accomplish.
But a move towards more localized licensed facilities would allow for quicker, closer inspection should an outbreak occur, which would minimize risk for consumers. Not only would consumers and retail outlets know exactly where the meat came from, but producers and processors would also have a strong incentive to protect their reputations with quality commitments.